Self-Determination Skills of Persons
with Intellectual disabilities in Arabic
Countries: A Mini-Review
Mahmoud Mohamed Eltantawy1,2*
1Department of Special Education, Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University (IMSIU), Saudi Arabia
2Department of Special Education, Ain shams University, Egypt
Submission: March 20, 2023; Published: April 10, 2023
*Corresponding author: Mahmoud Mohamed Eltantawy, Department of Special Education, Faculty of Education, Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University (IMSIU), Saudi Arabia
How to cite this article: Eltantawy M M. Self-Determination Skills of Persons with Intellectual disabilities in Arabic Countries: A Mini-Review. Glob J Intellect Dev Disabil. 2023; 11(4): 555816. DOI:10.19080/GJIDD.2023.11.555816
Persons with intellectual disabilities suffer different kinds of disorders due to impaired cognitive processes, which hinders their compatibility with life requirements as they are unable to perform their assigned roles and fulfill their needs. This results in an urgent need to develop their skills and to endow them with some compensatory strategies. Self-determination skills are considered one of the major skills needed by persons with intellectual disabilities in order to help them live independently. Self-determination skills are affected by a group of cultural and social variables, as well as other factors like the severity of the disability, the chronological age, gender, and others. Eventually, this mini review aims at shedding light on some important matters in related literature, clarifying some research points that were not tackled in it suggesting future studies that were not referred to in it, and drawing some recommendations related to the topic of the review.
Keywords: Self-Determination; Intellectual disabilities; Arab countries
In general, one of the paramount abilities for people is self-determination skills. They are of special importance for persons with intellectual disabilities as a result of their suffering from impaired cognitive processes, linguistic developmental disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, emotion developmental disorders and other developmental fields. They are crucial to succeed in work and marriage and other life roles that a person has to fulfill throughout his life; they are the major factor to achieve self-independence, social efficiency, quality of life, and psychological well-being, as it helps those persons to transit form one stage to another effectively.
Intellectual disability can be defined as a disability characterized by significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical skills. This disability originates during the developmental period, which is defined operationally as before the individual attains age 22 . As such, the majority of persons with intellectual disabilities suffer some problems managing their life affairs . Thus, they should acquire skills in a number of key areas to achieve independency. These are: daily-life skills, self-determination skills, interpersonal skills, and employment skills .
Self-determination skills are defined as the procedures and decisions followed by a person to achieve quality life. This can be achieved through avoiding unjustified external impacts and interferences . These comprise a number of sub-skills represented in: choice making, problem solving, decision making, self-awareness, self-independence, self-regulation, self-advocacy, as well as self-efficacy skills [5-7].
Undeniably, self-determination skills are affected to a great extent by cultural and social variables as well as the customs and traditions of the society where persons with intellectual disabilities live. They are also influenced by a group of factors such as: gender (what is available for males differs than females), the socio-economic status, the training and the interference programs provided by the society to these persons, the age group of persons with intellectual disabilities, and their place of residence (be it
in urban or rural areas). Thus, cultural and social considerations
play an influential role in developing these skills.
Studies carried out in the Arabic environment tackled selfdetermination
skills of persons with intellectual disabilities from
different perspectives; they investigated the level of having these
skills, differences between males and females, the impact of age
and the severity of disability on acquiring self-determination
skills, the effect of the educational type (governmental or private)
on their acquisition, the role of training as well as intervention
programs to develop them, the needed competencies and skills for
teachers to endow his students with intellectual disabilities with
them, as well as the reasons that hinder persons with intellectual
disabilities from acquiring these skills.
The studies that aimed at recognizing the level of possessing
self-determination skills in persons with intellectual disabilities
have clarified that that adult persons with intellectual disabilities
show a moderate to high degree of self-determination skills,
according to the viewpoints of their parents. The severity of
disability also plays a crucial role in acquiring self-determination
skills; these are better in adults with mild intellectual disabilities
compared with younger age groups. It is also proven that females
with intellectual disabilities are better than males in terms of selfdetermination
skills [8-10]. It is also shown that students with
intellectual disabilities enrolled in governmental institutions are
superior in these skills that those in private ones .
Training programs provided to persons with intellectual
disabilities play a great role in helping students acquire selfdetermination
skills; this means that it is recommended to
integrate these skills within the individual educational plans of
these students. It is also noted that there are different theoretical
frameworks, regarding the severity of disability, age, gender, and
cultural and social considerations, on which these programs can
rely [11,12]. The programs assigned to develop self-determination
skills of persons with intellectual disabilities are affected by
teachers’ efficacy and the level of their preparation (either pre,
post or during their service). Among the skills which have a
great impact are the following: the educational degree got by the
teacher, the number of years of experience in the field, the number
of training courses they got in relation to self-determination
skills of persons with intellectual disabilities . The findings
of one study clarified that teachers can highly reinforce selfdetermination
skills of students with intellectual disabilities, that
they are highly aware of the importance of self-determination
skills, and that the educational degree and stage, as well as the
number of experience years are of a great help to teachers in
developing the self-determination skills of their students .
As for the reasons which deter persons with intellectual
disabilities from acquiring self-determination skills, they can be
briefed in the following: The insufficiency of available information
resources about self-determination skills, the prevailing culture in
the society, which might negatively affect the acquisition of these
skills, and the maternal role in enhancing these skills and mothers’
dedication to reinforce it. The factors related to the person with
intellectual disabilities himself can also hinder the ability to get
self-determination skills, and among which are: the severity of the
disability; the less it is, the more is the chance to get these skills,
gender (male/female), and the chronological age; the differences
are in favor of elder persons to acquire these skills [15,16].
As it appears, it cannot be denied that self-determination
skills are paramount for persons with intellectual disabilities, and
that they play a crucial role in achieving an independent living.
The results of the studies have shown a positive correlation
between the acquisition of these skills and life quality as well as
the possibility of its prediction through acquiring these skills .
It was also highlighted that intervention programs are effective
in developing these skills, and that teachers’ good preparation
during their study in faculties of qualifying teachers or their work
at schools is also mandatory to reach this aim.
Consulting the studies included in this review clarified that
research in the area of self-determination skills of persons with
intellectual disabilities is very few and that there is an urgent
need to carry on more studies on different chronological ages
as well as on different types of disabilities, in areas with varying
socio-economic status, in order to elucidate different information
that help in developing self-determination skills of persons with
The present review recommends the necessity of providing
electronic information sources related to developing selfdetermination
skills of persons with intellectual disabilities,
provided that these use a simple language and supported by
videos suitable to each specific age group. It is also advised
to work on modifying social attitudes towards persons with
intellectual disabilities and making them aware of these skills
and their importance to these people. The study also advocates
the importance of training persons with intellectual disabilities,
including self-determination skills in individual educational
plans, training these persons on the specified skills at an early
age, and training their parents on self-determination skills
to train their offspring to use them. The current review also
recommends the necessity to carry out more studies to learn
about self-determination skills of persons with intellectual
disabilities, at both inclusion and isolation schools, to specify
a suitable educational alternative to develop these skills. More
studies related to self-determination of persons with intellectual
disabilities, with autism spectrum disorder, with attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder, and other cases of communicational,
movement and learning disorders are also advised to be carried
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